A Lesson in Networking

“I feel like I am stepping on to the Titanic,” said Carlos. “It’s so nice!” But rather than feeling like a fish out of water, as most first-generation college students might feel at a networking event at the Pfister Hotel, he embraced it.

Myladys Montanez, Clara Madrigal and Carlos Rodriguez are all part of the Abriendo Puertas (Opening Doors) program for Latino students in college. I met them during a Conexiones networking event for Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM). This new program is a collaboration between HPGM and the United Community Center that helps students complete their degrees, learn how to become competitive job candidates, and embark upon successful careers.

Funded through a grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, Abriendo Puertas works with 155 college students from 14 different universities in Wisconsin offering resources, workshops, and networking events with professionals so students can begin building their professional networks. “I am very proud of them,” said Arely Flores, program coordinator. “I love hearing from people that they are polite and approachable.”

Arely Flores and HPGM member Rafael Acevedo
Arely Flores and HPGM member Rafael Acevedo

Myladys, Carlos and Clara were by far the youngest people in the room, but pleasantly unfazed by it. They were soft spoken, but confident. Poised and polished for their age, but with a tinge of shyness that dissipated the more time I spent with them and the more verbal reinforcements they had from each other.

I asked them all where they went to school and what they study. They sung back in chorus without skipping a beat, as if they’ve been asked this question a million times before:

Myladys: “I go to MATC and I study business management.”

Clara: “I go to UWM and I want to be a nutritionist.”

Carlos: “I go to UWM too and I study global studies management.”

Okay, clearly this wasn’t their first rodeo, so I continued to sling questions.

What do you like about these events?

Myladys: “It’s great networking – you get to learn from a lot of different professionals and find out what they majored in and you can understand how to get to where you want to be.”

Carlos: “I am really shy so at first it was hard, but after I started coming to these sessions, I learned how to talk to other people. Being in this environment helps you to develop these skills.”

Clara: “It opened my eyes to other career possibilities.”

So how did you find out about this program?

Carlos: “Well because I am the president of the Latino Student Union at UWM,  Arely approached me and asked if he wanted to get involved.”

Clara: “I just heard about it from a friend”

Does it help that these are all Latinos here?

Myladys: “It doesn’t really matter, I believe that there are the same opportunities out there for everyone.”

Carlos: “No, I mean I just remember, don’t be scared, because everyone is here to help, just be you.

Myladys, Clara and Carlos.
Myladys, Clara and Carlos.

Getting at the Heart of It

It can strike at any time, take a victim of any age, and is the number one killer of women. Heart disease is a cause that clearly deserves everyone’s attention.

Last week was the 35th annual Heart Ball and a majority of the time it’s been at the Pfister Hotel. With over 350 guests in attendance, the American Heart Association raised  $145,885 in support of the event. This will go towards the more than $14 Million invested in 137 different projects in Wisconsin over the past 5 years.

Jay Matz, Communications Director, introduced me to 13-year-old Amber Jahr, the featured speaker of the evening. She collapsed in gym class three years ago of a heart attack – that’s right, a heart attack at age 10.

Amber had the flu, which went to her heart, causing it to inflame, setting off the attack. They used CPR and an AED (Automatic External Difibulator) at the school to revive her. She now has an ICD defibrillator implanted in her heart in case it ever happens again.

“I don’t really remember all of it, but I know my friends and family were really scared,” Amber recalls. “Once in a while I get teary eyed about it, but I am used to talking about it now.”

She was calm and poised, like an innocent victim telling her story to the jury. She’s obviously told her story more than once before and from that has gained a wisdom and maturity well beyond her age.

Amber had to take it easy for a while, but is a fully active “normal” 13-year-old teen. She lives with her family in Omro, near Oshkosh, and came into town for the evening to stay at the Pfister Hotel. Amber’s parents and sister were at the event to support here and help spread the word that no one is immune to matters of the heart.

The Jahr Family. Amber is third from the left.
The Jahr Family. Amber is third from the left.

 

Pints, Pointes and Pfister Narrator

There are certain perks to being the Pfister Narrator and having the opportunity to interview Milwaukee Ballet Company dancers is one of them. Last week, I attended a rehearsal at the Milwaukee Ballet to learn about the upcoming Genesis performance and international choreography competition. This competition only comes around every other year and brings some of the best talent from around the world right here to Milwaukee.

Because the Third Coast Digest shares the same commitment to the arts in Milwaukee as the Pfister Hotel, we partnered up to bring you a preview of the three dances that will premiere at Genesis on February 7-10. The winning choreographer will return to create a second dance for the Milwaukee Ballet’s 2014 series at the Pabst. Because of my affiliation with RadioMilwaukee, I will also be DJing the Pints before Points party this Thursday at 6 p.m. at the InterContinental (the modern step-sister to the Pfister) before the opening night of Genesis. See what the dancers have to say in the video below and hope to see you there!

Winter Fashion, Westbrook Style

Since starting his residency, Timothy Westbrook has had Milwaukee talking. At 23, he’s the youngest of the Pfister’s artists in residence, the first artist from out of state (Timothy hails from Wanakena, New York), and the first fiber artist (all other artists were painters).

On Friday, January 18th, he had jaws dropping.

He presented his final fashion event to coincide with Milwaukee’s winter Gallery Night and it was spectacular, to say the least. Timothy showed 17 looks (Yes, that’s right, in only eight months he’s woven the fabric by hand and constructed 17 looks). The models were striking in both appearance and attitude. The bold makeup and hair styles were courtesy of students from the Academy of Waukesha, a Paul Mitchell partner school. All of the looks were for sale as well – wearable art pieces ranging from $500- $23,000.

copyright Zachary Seib
copyright Zachary Seib

A squabble of photographers, like geese, stood attentively with  lenses up, ready to shoot the runway that split the Imperial ballroom in two camps of fans from every walk of life. Timothy’s clothing was constructed from re-purposed materials like vintage curtains,  plastic grocery bags, upholstery swatches, bedsheets, green Pfister umbrellas, and his signature, cassette tape film.

Because he was feeling a little homesick and didn’t want his emotions to get the best of him,  he cleverly recorded his opening remarks on one of his beloved cassette tapes. It was an incredibly telling moment, especially for those who have yet the pleasure to make his acquaintance. He’s quirky and incredibly kind. He’s professional with very clear vision and high standards, making it an honor to work alongside him at the Pfister.

I am no fashion critic, but I know what I like when it comes to aesthetics and Timothy, along with stylist Alexis Rose Criscimagna, achieved a beautiful balance of Avant-Garde and Victorian. Imagine a punk reconstruction of  Susan B. Anthony. But rather than critique his work, I want to tell you about Timothy Westbrook the person.

Brimming with character, with a penchant for fantasy, Timothy reveals that all he ever wanted to do was tell fairy tales. And through his work, he is doing just that. He loves unicorns, gesticulates wildly when he gets excited and makes everybody feel welcome, all the time. Timothy even  displays other artists’ work in his gallery.

Timothy will be in residence through March. Don’t miss out on meeting him before he becomes super famous. I for one, feel so happy that he’s woven his way into the fabric of the Milwaukee community. Timothy will reveal his legacy piece for the Pfister Hotel on March 29,  at an event open to the public. Check back for more details and become a fan of Timothy’s  Facebook page for more event coverage.

 

Photos courtesy of Zachery Seib Photography.

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Tonia Klein

Tonia Klein – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal:  The facet of the Pfister Artist in Residence program that I have enjoyed int he last four cycles is that each artist in residence has had an entirely different artistic perspective. My work is highly narrative, and typically involves some sort of fairy tale mythology.  And I love patterns!

My plan is to utilize the details of the ornate interior architecture in order to make various intricate patterns and create new narratives. The studio space in the Pfister would have a computer, printer, tri-pod and digital camera, a silkscreen table and about a thousand types of patterned paper in various states of collage.

Typically, I combine traditional methods of drawing, painting and printmaking with newer computerized digital photography and design techniques. The work ends up as a collage, screen print, digital print, and lately, I have been making opaque vinyl pattern pieces for window installations.

Currently, I work in a custom framing shop near Chicago, and often work with customers bringing in interesting things to frame. I enjoy hearing their stories about the pieces they bring in, and it would be fun to turn the tables and share the stories behind my own work.

Tonia’s work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 18th, 2013 through February 14th, 2013.  The public will be able to vote for Tonia & the other 2013 Artist in Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.18.  Fans will be able to vote once per day through 2.14.  (Please note that the public vote only counts for one chair on the final selection committee).

Starting at Noon on January 18th, you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can find bios for the other finalists by clicking their names below:

Eddie Villanueva
John Kowalczyk
Pamela Anderson
Stephanie Barenz
Sue Lawton

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Sue Lawton

Sue Lawton – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal: In my latest body of work, an art book entitled “The Circus and the Cyclone”, I worked with a wide range of people, from family and friends, to local musicians, to folks from around the country and around the world.

Over the course of the next year, I will continue writing and illustrating a new series of fantastical tales set in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan merging everyday encounters with extraordinary happinings. The visual style utilized my unique blend of inks and watercolor inspired by artists of the Golden Age of Illustration. I also plan to continue working with The Vitrolum Republic as they embark on the journey of recording their next album.

Each tale begins as an idea, but only takes true form through interactions with participants. I would love to paint another full-sized, vintage-inspired theatrical backdrop to use for a photo shoot for one of my next works. As these stories unfold, new images will come to life through pencil sketches, ink line drawings, and finally, fully color completed works. The final steps are then executed using traditional methods as well as my own techniques I have spent the last ten years fine-tuning.

Sue’s work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 18th, 2013 through February 14th, 2013.  The public will be able to vote for Sue & the other 2013 Artist in Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.18.  Fans will be able to vote once per day through 2.14.  (Please note that the public vote only counts for one chair on the final selection committee).

Starting at Noon on January 18th, you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can find bios for the other finalists by clicking their names below:

Eddie Villanueva
John Kowalczyk
Pamela Anderson
Stephanie Barenz
Tonia Klein

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Stephanie Barenz

Stephanie Barenz – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal: “THE CARRIERS”

The Pfister carries thousands of stories from over a hundred years. The famous Victorian art collection, the antiques, and rooms have served as silent witnesses to all of it. Every day a new story is written and this is where my proposal begins.

The title “The Carriers” is used to describe how I would use images of the hotel’s people and objects to “carry” the memories and stories of the Pfister. For example, I would ask guests if I could interview them about where they were coming from, their visit at the Pfister, what they brought with them, and what kind of transportation brought them to Milwaukee. I would then paint an image of their luggage or the train car that they arrived in that is piled high with their stories and memories from our conversation. Our conversation would most likely extend beyond their stay at the hotel and I would work from images they give me.

I would also create works solely based on the hotel’s past and present history. Anything could carry a memory, such as a hotel room or an old chandelier. This playful approach has endless possibilities. I would turn the Victorian collection and the hotel archives for imagery and inspiration.

Over the course of a year I would like to create an entire body of work entitled “The Carriers” that would include 20 to 30 paintings. I would turn these images into an illustrated book and hopefully collaborate with the Pfister resident journalist and storyteller to write some text for the images

Stephanie’s work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 18th, 2013 through February 14th, 2013.  The public will be able to vote for Stephanie & the other 2013 Artist in Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.18.  Fans will be able to vote once per day through 2.14.  (Please note that the public vote only counts for one chair on the final selection committee).

Starting at Noon on January 18th, you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can find bios for the other finalists by clicking their names below:

Eddie Villanueva
John Kowalczyk
Pamela Anderson
Sue Lawton
Tonia Klein

 

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson – Wauwatosa, WI

 

Proposal: As the 2013 Pfister Artist in Residence I will engage Pfister visitors in dialog about the correlations and contrasts between Victorian Art and my style of painting, the Abstract Expressionist style.

Victorian Art’s vibrant colors evoked high society during the 19th century.  Brighter emotional colors and dynamic strokes were used to record the culture of the time.  The Abstract Expressionism movement was the first Art Movement formally developed in America. Exiled European artists and young American Artists found themselves conversing about the times. This stimulating dialog resulted in creation of dynamic, vibrant artworks.  The Abstract movement began as the last of the art movements of the Victorian era were ending.  I feel that the technological advances that the Victorian era made allowed the way scientists, artists and the public viewed art and aesthetics.  This began to pave the way for a new art period to begin. The visual appeal of my canvasses recognizes this through intense use of color. I have been studying the Abstract Expressionist Artists, developing my own techniques and interpretation of their artistic style.

My plan is to select 8 works from the Pfister Victorian Art Collection to study and paint my interpretation of the motions and colors used in the collection.  I will display artwork from the Pfister Collection that inspired me and explore the poetic interchange of color and emotions with the visitors in the gallery.  My legacy piece will be a work created from expanding on the possibilities of this medium and approach.

I am looking forward to my growth and education if honored to be the next Pfister Artist in Residence.

The works that speak to me for this exploration and dialog are:

  1. Incense – Roberto Bompiani
  2. Grecian Girl – Antonio Torres
  3. Music – Cesare Auguste Detti
  4. Flirtation – Georges Achille-Fould
  5. The Rose – Adolphe Piot
  6. A View of Venice – Charles Clement Calderon
  7. The Poppy Field – Louis Aston Knight
  8. Confidences – Federigo Andreotti

Pamela’s work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 18th, 2013 through February 14th, 2013.  The public will be able to vote for Pamela & the other 2013 Artist in Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.18.  Fans will be able to vote once per day through 2.14.  (Please note that the public vote only counts for one chair on the final selection committee).

Starting at Noon on January 18th, you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can find bios for the other finalists by clicking their names below:

Eddie Villanueva
John Kowalczyk
Stephanie Barenz
Sue Lawton
Tonia Klein

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – John Kowalczyk

John Kowalczyk – Milwaukee, WI

 

Proposal: MKE: A City With 4 Seasons

If given this opportunity, I will create four distinct bodies of work for the gallery nights. Each body of work will include fifteen paintings and the general inspiration will be one of the four seasons. Currently I am working on a winter collection.  By limiting myself to the use of red, black and white and utilizing hard edge geometry, I capture the feeling of winter’s wind visually. There will be layers of narrative along with layers of materials.  Paint, fabric, handmade paper, ribbons, repurposed prints all become elements of the collage. I will involve the community by interviewing people about their experiences with the seasons in Milwaukee and translate their stories into my abstract paintings.  The community could create collage material with me or bring materials to be used in the finished painting.

My work is 2D and 3D inhabiting the space between painting and sculpture.  I am interested in the play between folk and fine art. I illustrate this by mixing materials that elevate in a fine art context. I will personify the seasons, infused with the communities’ stories, with my paintings to result in a body of work accessible to everyone, yet layered with hidden treasures.

John’s work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 18th, 2013 through February 14th, 2013.  The public will be able to vote for John & the other 2013 Artist in Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.18.  Fans will be able to vote once per day through 2.14.  (Please note that the public vote only counts for one chair on the final selection committee).

Starting at Noon on January 18th, you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can find bios for the other finalists by clicking their names below:

Eddie Villanueva
Pamela Anderson
Stephanie Barenz
Sue Lawton
Tonia Klein

 

2013 Artist in Residence Finalist – Eddie Villanueva

Eddie Villanueva – Milwaukee, WI

Proposal: If you grant me the opportunity to become the next Pfister Hotel Artist in Residence, I will accomplish the following objectives.  I will develop a new body of acrylic and oil paintings based on my response to the bustling environment of the hotel, it’s lavish architecture, and it’s rich history. I will average approximately one painting a week which will vary in size between 11″x14″ and 36″x48″. While I will exhibit my paintings throughout the year, I will also use the space to curate challenging contemporary exhibitions of national and international emerging artists working in a range of critical practices.  Furthermore I will initiate a series of forums, visiting artist talks, and other community building programs that will offer a bridge between the hotel and the local, national and international art community.  If I am granted the position of Artist in Residence not only will I eagerly develop my own work, I will use the tools of my emerging professional practice to help develop the potential of this great opportunity and its relationship to the community at large.

Eddie’s work will be on display at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel beginning on January 18th, 2013 through February 14th, 2013.  The public will be able to vote for Eddie & the other 2013 Artist in Residence finalists through the Pfister Hotel Facebook page beginning on 1.18.  Fans will be able to vote once per day through 2.14.  (Please note that the public vote only counts for one chair on the final selection committee).

Starting at Noon on January 18th, you can vote for your favorite artist by visiting the voting tab on Facebook right here.

You can find bios for the other finalists by clicking their names below:

John Kowalczyk
Pamela Anderson
Stephanie Barenz
Sue Lawton
Tonia Klein